Life in Nicaragua

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, there is really just so much to be thankful for. I’ve never really thought about how grateful I am that I was born in the place that I was. Of course I have thought about how thankful I am for my wonderful family and all of my amazing friends (and so much more), but the country I was born into? Sometimes I think it is to easy to forget how great we have it, because we don’t often look at how different it is for others.

One of the wonderful things about the beautiful people here in Nicaragua, is their love of their country and their people. Although they are surrounded by poverty, many raised in a war-ridden era, constantly facing incomprehensible hardships, their hope, laughter, and joy cease to amaze me. My time here is rapidly coming to an end, and with goodbyes in my near future….well, I can’t imagine leaving. These people have touched me deeply and taught me more than they will ever know.

Thanksgiving was fabulous, although I will say I missed the traditional meal and time spent with family. I spent my evening in McDonald’s. Yes, that’s right, good ol Mickey D’s. My first time since I’ve been here! The dorm girls have been great lately, and with Britt just recently getting back from vacation, she decided to take them for a night out. Their choice. So off to Mc D’s we went! None of them had ever been before, so they were excited about everything. From the play structure to the ‘cool thing the ketchup comes out of.’ I miss everyone at home, but have to say – I’m very thankful I got to share this night with my wonderful girls here in Nica.

I hope you all had a spectacular evening, filled with family, friends, love, thankfulness, and of course – FOOD! I’m thankful that I have all of you (those who read this AND those who don’t 🙂 ) in my life! Much love and many blessings to you all!

Bon a petite! Oscar, Vilma, Emily, the dorm girls, Britt and I – enjoying a night out on the town! Quite an adventure for the girls!

Ana and Emily (Emily is Oscar and Vilma’s daughter – the on site directors of HOH)

Little Berta posing for the camera in the back of the truck on our way home.


Two weeks left!

Where does the time go? I just spent the weekend at the orphanage and being there seemed so normal, it seems crazy to think I have not actually lived there for almost 6 months! While so much has happened and there are times when it feels like I’ve been here for a long time, I cannot believe how fast these eight months have flown by!

The weekend at the orphanage was wonderful, and I had a chance to see some really awesome changes in not only the facility, but the children. One in particular, Maricela. If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you might remember that Maricela is one of the three sisters that I immediately fell in love with (along with Ana and Maria Teresa). I wrote about her in an August post, about how she had been changing, but now it’s even more apparent! First she was very difficult, angry, never studied, constantly stuck out her tongue rather than speaking, and often gave the impression that she was scared or nervous. Then in August I saw her changing and smiling more, but still very reserved. I am happy to say that is no longer the Maricela that is at the orphanage. She is all smiles and laughter now, she rarely sticks out her tongue, and I even heard her asking Rina for more homework, so she could practice her cursive. In June she was failing all but one class, and she is now proudly passing all of her classes and is about to graduate from the third grade (their school year is Feb – Nov so they are in finals week now). It has been amazing to watch her light up, and you can feel her happiness just by playing with her. She no longer seems scared, but comfortable, relaxed, and even outgoing! I feel very fortunate to have been there to see these changes for myself.

As for changes in the orfa, the new directors are doing an awesome job! They older boys have planted a banana field, they have fixed the old green house and filled it with hydroponic boxes full of all sorts of vegetables, they have four peligueys (a goat/sheep mix) and one pig, and the facility itself is looking great. They have plans to start a chicken coop and to sell some of their MANY mangoes. There is so much space and possibility there, and with their focus sustainability, it is awesome to see some of their ideas come to fruition. One other HUGE plus – they now have a person in charge of agriculture who is mentoring some of the older boys. They are finally beginning to learn something that they can actually use after they leave the orphanage. Preparing them for the outside world is something they have really lacked, and it is nice to finally see changes in that arena as well. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I feel they have come a long way in these past eight months!!

For a bit more this orfa trip, click the title of this post.

Flexibility and humor – you’d go insane without ’em

Life is crazy, wonderful, emotional, hectic and inspiring at House of Hope. We seem to be constantly growing. In the short time I was out sick (longer than I wanted) we had three new families move in. Well, each of the women had been here before, but they were welcomed back with arms wide open. Marta, 41, and her two grandsons (her two daughters are still sadly still out on the street), Gloria, 19, and her two babies, and Cynthia, 23 and her two children. They are all near my room, so it was great to come back surrounded by new neighbors. Unfortunately we only have single rooms left, as we’re waiting for one of the new duplexes to be built, so they are all in single rooms, 10×10, with their children for now.

The team working on the new duplex

This week was especially crazy! We had a team from Washington that was working on building the duplex in the mornings, and in the afternoons I translated one of our women’s testimonies for the team, then their ministry for the women, and finally craft time for the children. Much harder than I thought! Translating testimonies is especially hard, as their stories are SO intense, and some I had never heard before. What these women have been through, it’s utterly astonishing that some of them are still moving forward. They continue to inspire me and you can really feel the hope pour out of them.

Decorating bags during craft time with the team

After the team left each day, I’d head to the kitchen to start cooking for the dorm girls because Britt, the dorm mom went to Costa Rica for a quick vacation with her family. The dorm girls can be so much fun – yet there are also times when ‘a handfull’ does not come close to describing them. I can honestly say I don’t know how Brittany does it 24/7; the patience and heart she has, well…it’s remarkable.

Me and Kimberly, one of our newest additions to the dorm

I feel like I’m forming incredible bonds with the women here and I really can’t imagine leaving. While I’m so excited for some time at home, leaving is going to be really difficult. I’m starting to think that maybe my time here has not come to an end and I’ll be back next year? Or will I be getting involved in similar work in the states? There are a lot of ideas floating out there right now, and at this point I’m just praying for some direction because I have no idea what lies ahead…

It’s not fun being sick in a foreign country…

I know, it’s been a LONG time with no updates! Unfortunately, I still don’t have much to talk to about, since I’ve been in bed for almost three weeks! There’s a Dengue Fever epidemic right now, and one of the kind mosquitoes chose to bite me. I will say – I wish Dengue Fever on NO ONE. My case went from bad to worse, and I ended up with a serious kidney infection – and that’s why I was in bed for so long. I’m happy to say that I am up and moving again (after many doctors visits, pedialite, injections, anitibiotics….) and will be back at House of Hope today! Oh, I left House of Hope to stay at John and Helen’s to recover, and unfortunately two other people at HH currently have Dengue as well. So yes, I’ll be seriously using the repellent with my remaining time there (it’s said to be worse the second time- which I cannot imagine).

Anyway, life is great here and I am soo excited to get back and get some quality time with the women and children. I miss them! Here’s a few pics from life before the sickness, and my visit to the orphanage (which went really well by the way).

Is this not the cutest thing ever?? Her mom made this outfit for her in one day! (Go DUCKS 😉

Margarita, Connie and I at Camino de Vida – the Saturday morning kids church.

The kids at the Casa Bernabe had a school dance presentation – each group represented a different region of Nicaragua, and their traditional dance. Ana and Ruben are in orange, and Mileydi and her school partner are in blue. They were ADORABLE!!


A little bit of life

Things have been wonderfully busy here at House of Hope! We’ve had teams visiting working on plumbing, roofing and other general construction on our new buildings (that will eventually house more families), and we’ve also had teams come to work on sewing and paper bead making. I’ve been getting a lot of translating opportunities – and some great time with the women and children!

A view of one of the new duplex buildings

To read a bit more – click the title of this post.

Rat friends.

Ok, so those of you who have been following since the beginning, might remember my story about the infamous rat poop at the orphanage. Since I’d seen it before (even though it was oddly on the ceiling there) I didn’t think too much of it when I would find random pieces of it around my room. Yes, it grossed me out, but all in all, it’s small and I was distracted with my few tarantula run ins. UNTIL – I left a tomato out on my mini fridge one night, and left my room for a few hours and came back to this….

Sure, go right ahead

Well that freaked me out. I tried to pretend it was a small little thing – then a few night later I left a bag of bananas hanging on my window lock (yes, my bad) and after I saw this….

Don't mind me ;)

I knew he was a big ‘friend’ and I wasn’t feeling too comfortable. I was chatting in my doorway with one of the girls when she screamed and pointed up at the top of the wall….and there he was – his huge head and beady eyes. Needless to say, I slept with the light on, hoping he won’t come down to visit if he thinks I’m awake. Next item on the shopping list: poison or traps?? I’m not excited about either, but something has to happen.

I’ll keep you posted!

New life at House of Hope

Well, I don’t really know how to adequately describe this place…but I do know that I love it! This might be the best fit for me yet!

I’m still trying to come up with a way to describe all that goes on here, but I’m coming up empty handed. What I can say, is that one of the main things I love is that there are a lot of ‘tasks’ to get done. We have time to hang out and bond with the women and children, yet there is also plenty of things to constantly be ‘checking off the list.’ Even though there are a lot of mundane tasks, you’d be amazed at what goes into a ministry of this type – and you always feel like you had a really productive (and tiring) day – even if you did nothing that you had planned; things are constantly changing!


Two of the dorm girls, Sugey – 12 yrs old and Yemi (pronounced Jamie) – 12 yrs old, with the two baby peligueys (a mixed breed of goat and sheep)

To see a recently updated video about House of Hope, check out their website at

For more pics and details about what’s going on here, click the title of the post. AND – many more pics will be added to my shutterfly site soon!!

Moving day is finally here!

I just finished packing up the last of my things and I’m about to head over to Casa Esperanza (House of Hope)! I’m extremely excited for the change and can’t wait to see what’s in store for me. Things have been changing (like always) so I’m not quite sure what I’ll be doing there, and I don’t think there is internet, but I’ll keep you posted!

Much love and many blessings!

Costa Rica

I’ve been in Nicaragua for 6 months now – so it was time to leave the country and renew my visa! I headed to Costa Rica and stayed part of my trip with Esme, a Costa Rican I had previously met here in Nicaragua, and the other portion of my time I spent with my wonderful Costa Rican ‘guide’ Maikol. He is close friends with the former directors of Casa Bernabe, so I have known him for a while – and it was great to travel the country with a native!
We walked around the capitol, visited his family and friends in neighboring pueblos, headed to the Atlantic Coast to play in the water, stayed at a friends farm in the middle of the mountains, hiked to secluded rivers, went ziplining… was an amazing trip!

Many more pics to come…check out the shutterfly site!

If you want to see more pictures…

Turns out it’s easier (and quicker) to upload multiple pics to my other, older, site ( – so from now on you can find them there. There’s a link to the site, titled “My Pictures.” on the left side of the home page. Enjoy!